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Soulive: Photograph Courtesy of Calabro Music

Soulive: Photograph Courtesy of Calabro Music

Bowlive V: Night IV – Soulive feat. Jon Cleary and John Scofield @ The Brooklyn Bowl (03.18.14)

As the members of Soulive settled in over the years, their Brooklyn Bowl based annual residency, Bowlive, has became as institutional as the music itself. During the first week, the audience was privileged enough to enjoy the musical styling of vocalists Nigel Hall and Nicki Bluhm, turntablist DJ Logic, rocking guitarists Warren Haynes and Eddie Roberts, legendary bassist George Porter, Jr., and house band, The Shady Horns. Full band performances and collaborations by Leroy Justice and The London Souls added to the marvel. Every song sailed down the middle of the stage, rolled by the trio with the consistency of a pro bowler. This consistency, of course, has been the key to Soulive’s longevity.

“When Soulive hit the stage, I was surprised at how they constantly matched the energy from the previous nights. I’m always reminded of the 80’s power trio bands that filled a room with just three musicians and am amazed how these guys do it. A modern day jazz/funk power trio like no other.” ~ R.G.

Commencing with their second week of Bowlive V, Neal Evans, Alan Evans and Eric Krasno have put together another long list of talented musicians to keep us satiated for the remaining five nights. Over the next few evenings our musical senses will be overloaded with the likes of Joe Russo, Susan Tedeschi, Jon Cleary, Bill Evans, Alan Evans Trio, DMC (of Run DMC), Marco Benevento, Sonya Kitchell, and WOLF! Featuring Scott Metzger. You can also count on some surprise guests.

For night IV, Soulive made all the right moves, showering the audience in musical genius, making sure no one would regret coming out on a Tuesday night. With Jon Cleary and John Scofield as the special guests last night, it was the perfect kick-off for the second week. And what a kick-off it was. It was truly stimulating. Soulive and their guests performed one long extended set with Jon Cleary opening to a packed house at 8:30pm.

“Notes from the front line, my first encounter with Bowlive! Thank you Soulive and Brooklyn Bowl for making our first Brooklyn Bowl/Bowlive experience a very memorable one. From the moment we arrived, we were welcomed by the staff and had a great pre-show dinner, followed by the acquisition of the highly coveted John Warner Bowlive poster, which are limited to 15 posters per evening. After seeing some fellow Pittsburghers and Jam Cruisers, we secured our spots on the platform area with a killer view of the stage.” ~ M.M & L.M.

Jon Cleary Set
Unknown
I Feel So Damn Good I’ll Be Glad When I Get the Blues
Cheating On You
When You Get Back, We Gonna Cha Cha All Night Long
The Crave (an emotionally complex piece.)
I Get The Blues When It Rains
Unknown (Boogie Woogie Tune)

Phone Capture Courtesy By Rob Mishaan

Phone Capture Courtesy By Rob Mishaan

The venue was packed with devoted music fans. This wasn’t your average audience who was there to drink and chat it up with their friends. Almost every eye was fixated on the stage as Jon Cleary opened the night with a solo piano set showcasing his vested studies in the music of New Orleans. Having moved from Kent, England to study the music of New Orleans, Jon Cleary is arguably the best out there right now. A disciple of Professor Long Hair and James Booker, Cleary’s voice is salty-sweet and he is a master of the piano, organ and guitar. You may know him best as a member of Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal‘s bands and his own group, Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen. With his blend of jazz, blues, soul, gospel, and honky-tonk, Cleary epitomizes New Orleans music. His set was evidence of his extreme caliber of musical knowledge.

Jon Cleary started the night of music off right, as I was immediately intrigued by his silky smooth voice and Deniro-esque looks. His “Big Easy” style was quite a cover for his British heritage. This new musical discovery for me had me Googling his discography this morning to see what else I could find out about this man!” ~ M.M. & L.M.

“Having just booked our trip to Nola for jazziest the night before I could not have asked for a better punctuation. Watching Jon Cleary play keys in such classic New Orleans style blew us away. I could only wonder if Neal Evans was peeking down the stairs to watch this guy.” ~ R.G.

Set I
Shaheed
Come Together
One in 7
For Granted
Cannonball
What You See Is What You Get
Nealization
Something’s Got A Hold on Me
Motherless Child
Walk With Me
Don’t Need No Doctor
Turn It Out
Hottentot

Encore: Get Back

Last night, there wasn’t three sets or even two sets, there was one long extended set which ended promptly at midnight. Soulive, The Shady HornsJon Cleary and John Scofield would command the stage with various genres of blues and jazz, filling every second of the evening with prodigious music. The set started out with the members of Soulive performing “Shaheed,” The Beatles‘ tune, “Come Together,” and “One in 7.” During “Come Together,” the audience sang along with heads bobbing and the stage lights flashing, while “One in 7” was played with a delightful intro. It was also during this time that there was some malfunction with Neal’s keyboards. Times like these can break a musical moment but Alan Evans picked up the slack by drumming his heart out while the chords on his brother’s rig were being fixed. When the audience heard the rejuvenation of the bass keys, it was on!

“Upon completion of Jon Cleary‘s set, Soulive took the stage, embracing me with their soul soothing sounds and reminding me that Neal Evans is a true bad-ass! Watching him lay down those bass lines with his left hand as his right hand plays the Hammond chords was literal music to my ears! The Beatles‘ cover “Come Together” got the crowd singing along, but you could see the anxious anticipation for the arrival of John Scofield, who was the special guest of the evening. Having the pleasure of watching such musical prowess and interplay in such close proximity was truly a treat.” ~ M.M.

“For Granted” and “Cannonball” were both played with the help of The Shady Horns. Ryan Zoidis (baritone/alto saxophone), Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet) and James Casey (alto saxophone/percussion) always bring a special vibe to the stage when they join Soulive. As much as they is a respected jazz trio, their vested interest in funk runs deep. The audience is blessed to have a horn ensemble in the mix of some of their favorite jazz tunes. “For Granted” was a wonderful showcase for the widely talented Ryan Zoidis, while James Casey absolutely stole the show with his performance on “Cannonball.” Eric Bloom took his liberties with his pedals and effects during his solo, as well.  These two songs were meant to showcase The Shady Horns and boy, did they deliver.

The Shady Horns were dead on, once again. Eric Bloom‘s effects-enhanced solos and James Casey killed it, as always, while Ryan continues to be the mainstay. Gonna get some more rest today so I can get back there tonight with Tedeschi!!!” ~ R.G.

The eyes say so much, and they speak even louder when a musician closes his eyes and is fully immersed in song. This happened to Krasno throughout the remainder of the set. When Scofield came on the stage, Krasno was in a blissed-out state of being, eyes closed, in total focus. “What You See Is What You Get,” a major hit for the Dramatics in 1971, is Scofield’s interpretation of Detroit soul music.  The beautiful thing about John Scofield is that even though he covers many old tunes, the arrangements are all his own. “Nealization,” obviously composed by Neal Evans, was a fantastic representation of his talent. Scofield played lead guitar while Krasno played rhythm. The entire crew on stage was grinning from ear to ear while the ax-men played off each other, trading delicious licks on their guitars.

“I have been a fan of John Scofield since the first time I saw him at The Bottom Line in NYC in 1980. I always mark this night as a must go. Even having stayed home from work sick, I got the energy up to get there. I was not disappointed!!! It is so obvious that Kraz uses Sco as a mentor and has used him as one of his many inspirations. As it is equally obvious how Sco is impressed with Kraz. There dueling solos blew the entire audience away. Sco has a way of making his guitar sing.” ~ R.G.

“Can someone explain to me how Neal Evans solos on keys with Soulive while also dropping funky bass? Meanwhile, I can’t even rub my tummy and tap my head at the same time…” ~ K.S.

“Neal Evans is the most underrated bass player in music. His right hand gets so funky, we forget his left is leading us to the promise land.” ~ J.S.

The next two songs were songs off John Scofield‘s latest album release, Piety Street. The Rev. James Cleveland cover, “Something’s Got A Hold On Me,” was first but it was “Motherless Child,” a traditional negro spiritual born out of slavery and sung by Cleary with sharp new harmonies, that grabbed the audience’s attention. 

“When I heard “Motherless Child,” I almost didn’t recognize it. I recognized that I was hearing the words of a song I knew but the arrangement was so different from the versions I’d previously heard.  I am aging myself by saying this but I remember the first time I ever heard that song. I was just 15 years old. It is the hidden song within Track 11 off the Cracked Rear View album by Hootie and The Blowfish. Y’all remember that? Darius Rucker sings the song in it’s traditional A-Capella style. It was as beautiful to back then as it was now, hearing it in this new style and arrangement. I adore when modern musicians take classic songs and make them their own.” ~ K.D.

“One of my favorite moments of the evening, was when the stage was packed with everyone on the bill, Soulive, The Shady Horns, Scofield and Clearly as they played a tune that featured three part harmonies of Alan EvansJon Cleary and Eric “Benny” Bloom. I look forward to finding that show on Archive.org to relive that moment and sing along with them!” ~ M.M.

Photo Courtesy of Mark Dershowitz

Photo Courtesy of Mark Dershowitz

Then, the jazz/organ trio pulled a new maneuver out of their Bowlive bag of tricks. Jon Cleary and John Scofield remained on stage, while Soulive and The Shady Horns exited. This would be the first time in Bowlive history where the band allowed the stage to be commanded solely by the guests. It was not a coincidence that Jon Cleary and John Scofield were the two guests playing on the bill last night. Cleary is not only renowned for his ability to play the ivories, but he also composes music and went on to write and join John Scofield on the the road singing and playing with Scofield’s Piety Street Band. Needless to say, the combination of the two artists performing their song, “Walk With Me,” was electrifying and unique. Cleary sat back and watched as Scofield took a few measures for himself before joining in the song.

Through great applause, John Scofield leaned into the microphone. Referring to Cleary, he says, “This guy can play a mean piano but did you know he is an amazing guitarist, as well?” With that, Cleary jumped from the keys and moved to guitar while Krasno picked up the bass for “Don’t Need No Doctor.” Scofield continued, “John Mayer used to sing this song, but you should hear Cleary sing this song.” The audience laughed. The horns had left the stage but James Casey remained playing percussion. Casey is an amazing horn player but his talent by way of understanding sounds in percussion has grown exponentially since we saw him last year at Bowlive IV.  During the song, Scofield could be seen bouncing around, pointing to the next member on stage he wanted to pull a solo.

“I want to say that my highlight was “What You See Is What You Get,” “Nealization” or “Hottentot,” but honestly I had two highlights. (1) Cleary killing it on guitar with Kraz killing it on Bass, and (2) Scofield directing traffic. Maybe it’s an elder statesman thing, but the respect that guy engenders on stage is impressive. He was absolutely in charge and was clearly enjoying going tit for tat with everyone. I especially loved when [John Scofield] made a point to give Alan some play time, because, give the drummer some! Am I right? All in all, just a beast of a show. I fucking love Bowlive.”  ~ B.M.

Jon Cleary‘s turn was up and he retired backstage. The Shady Horns were also held back as Soulive and John Scofield played, “Turn It Out.” This was the time for all the jazz heads to revel in the genre. As much as Soulive likes to give us the funk, jazz is their priority and their growing reputation on this musical path is what has brought them this far. Scofield’s reputation in the Jazz community runs deeper and Krasno’s idolization of Scofield’s style is evident in how Krasno, himself, plays. So you can imagine how equally graceful and intense this part of the set was.

“Seeing two guitar gods trade licks was invigorating, and truly impressive at the same time, as you could see the admiration that Krasno has for Scofield as they both played their hearts out! It was ON, for sure!! “Turn It Out” brought back some great musical memories for me, as I harkened back to a January 2003 Soulive show that took place in an Italian restaurant in the tiny mountain town of Makawao, HI on the island of Maui. It reinforced the fact that we made a great decision to make the trek for our first Bowlive and it’s got me jazzed looking forward to what I’ll get to experience tonight! Thank you Eric, Alan and Neal!! You and your friends bring me musical delight!” ~ M.M.

We love you madly,” said Scofield, “This one is a groover, called ‘Hottentot,’ so let’s keep dancing.” And dance we did. The venue never emptied out like in previous nights and this was a true testament to the musicianship on stage. Like I mentioned previously, this wasn’t your average audience of bar goers. There were super fans in the audience for each of the artists on stage and they were there in full support all night. Alan Evans was featured on a rousing drum solo during “Hottentot.”  He is honestly one of the best jazz drummers around and the audience was overheard speaking on how they were looking forward to the Alan Evans Trio opening for Bowlive on night six.

Everyone was brought back on stage for the single-song encore, “Get Back.” A Beatles‘ tune, it was expertly played by the musicians on stage, having all worshiped the Beatles at some point in their musical careers.  The audience was invested as well and sang along with bodies bouncing. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful collaboration of musicians.

——————————

Tonight, Jon Cleary will return with special guests jazz saxophonist Bill Evans, acclaimed Brooklyn drummer Joe Russo and southern vocalist and guitarist Susan Tedeschi. 

——————————

List of Special Guests and Openers:

THURSDAY MARCH 13 – Special Guest: NIGEL HALL, EDDIE ROBERTS, more TBA

FRIDAY MARCH 14 – Special Guests: GEORGE PORTER JR. & SPECIAL GUESTS TBA
Opener: LEROY JUSTICE

SATURDAY MARCH 15 – Special Guest: GEORGE PORTER JR. feat. a special LONDON SOULIVE joint set
Opener: THE LONDON SOULS

TUESDAY MARCH 18 – Special Guest: JOHN SCOFIELD
Opener & Special Guest: JON CLEARY

WEDNESAY MARCH 19 – Special Guests: JOE RUSSO & SUSAN TEDESCHI
Opener & Special Guest: JON CLEARY

THURSDAY MARCH 20 – Special Guest: DMC (of RUN DMC) and TALIB KWELI
Opener: ALAN EVANS TRIO

FRIDAY MARCH 21 – Special Guest: Marco Benevento, Sonya Kitchell, Roosevelt Collier, Felix Pastorius, Oteil & Kofi Burbridge, and Brandon Niederauer
Opener: SONYA KITCHELL

SATURDAY MARCH 22 – Special Guest: Bill Evans and more TBA
Opener: WOLF! Featuring Scott Metzger

Read Full Post »

The Funky Meters (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

The Funky Meters (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Three Nights of The Funky Meters @ The Brooklyn Bowl (01.15-17.11)

This was an event!  In the same spirit as Phanatics travel to Coventry for three nights of Phish, died hard Meters fans traveled far and wide to witness The Funky Meters magic occur over a span of three nights at the beloved Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, NY.

For having never been to New York, I have never felt more at home in a brand new place. I can’t help but compare the room to the Rock N Bowl in New Orleans, a similar venue with a bowling alley and large stage for music, but this room has a great layout. A bar in the back, with a large dance floor area, the stage straight ahead. And to the side, a few steps up, rows of bowling lanes, with a walkway in front, providing a side stage vantage that lets one really feel like part of the performance. Everywhere you stand, there is a great vantage point of the stage, the lighting is good and the sound quality anywhere in the room was great too. ~ NOLA resident, Ananda Atmore

George Porter Jr. (Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

George Porter Jr. (Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

Back in 1967, Art “Poppa Funk” Neville collected a funky gang of New Orleans musicians who would come to be known as The Meters, .  George Porter Jr. played bass, Art “Poppa Funk” Neville played keys, Joseph (Zigaboo) Modeliste on drums and Leo Nocentelli on guitar! In 1977, they called it quits, leaving behind a musical legacy cementing them as Funk pioneers.

Russel Batiste (Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

Once the group disbanded, Art “Poppa Funk” Neville joined with his brothers performing as The Neville Brothers while George Porter Jr. founded PBS, or Porter, Batiste and Stolz.  Since The Neville Brothers were not touring this season, Art Neville was openly available to hit the road with The Funky Meters, who are the members of PBS with the addition of Art “Poppa Funk” Neville.

Art “Poppa Funk” Neville – Keys
George Porter, Jr. – Bass
Brian Stoltz – Guitar
Russell Batiste, Jr. – Drums

Brian Stolz (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Brian Stoltz (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

It had been three years since The Funky Meters last played together. When Brian Stoltz isn’t wowing the audience with his shredding guitar style with The Funky Meters, Ian Neville holds the guitar spot. Essentially, in the middle of all these Meters heads were PBS fans and EVERYONE was a George Porter Jr. fan! But, honestly, who doesn’t love George Porter Jr.?  Go check my facebook info under “religion”, you’ll find George Porter Jr.‘s name stands alone!

(Photo by Dino Perrucci)

(Photo by Dino Perrucci)

The Funky Meters (02.15.11)

Art “Poppa Funk” Neville – Keys
George Porter, Jr. – Bass
Brian Stoltz – Guitar
Russell Batiste, Jr. – Drums

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

I was lucky enough to have the wonderful New Orleans photographer Jeffrey Dupuis (Jeffrey Dupuis Photography) as a house guest for the three night run.  We arrived in Brooklyn just in time to grab something to eat some scrumptious $3.50 falafel sandwiches at Oasis, one of my favorite spots to hit before heading to The Brooklyn Bowl.

The turn out for a Tuesday night was exactly what we thought it would be. The venue was no where near sold out but the place was full of people who knew what was going to take place on stage that night. And what a great warm-up performance it was.

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

As they took the stage, each member had a blazing smile on their face and the audience was wild with applause. George Porter Jr. notices a couple in the audience wearing a “George Matters” tie-dyed tee shirt, the same shirt they had personally created and gifted to him many moons ago.  “I recognize that shirt,” he states as he starts the first jam, which was so unbelievably funky.

The following four songs were from The Meters catalog.  “The World” brought the funk full throttle as Brian Stoltz reminded me how much I had missed seeing him perform.  He is truly superb with his rock-driven funk guitar styling. “Fire on The Bayou” and “Change/Reform”  had the entire audience singing as they were the most recognizable Meters songs performed that night.  Porter growled deeply into the microphone as they pounded out a wonderful “Here Comes the Jungle Man” that book-ended a “They Don’t Know” tease.

The noticeable covers of the night were Lee Dorsey‘s “Get Out of My Life, Woman”, Professor Longhair‘s “Going to Mardi Gras” and Tom Waits‘s “Way Down in the Hole”. Porter and Russell Batiste, Jr. both pulled out solos that earned their own spot in the set list! Art showed his age but with a smile on his face, he played through with energy and had a few golden moments himself.

Best reason to do three nights: Rare Songs ~ NOLA Photographer Jeffrey Dupuis

In the end, we were given almost two hours of pure Funky Meters gold and we all walked out of The Brooklyn Bowl terribly excited and putting together our wish list for tomorrow night’s set list!

Set List – Night I
A Jam*
The World Is A Little Under The Weather >
Chicken Strut >
…Fire On The Bayou >
Cardova >
Get Out Of My Life Woman >
Here Come’s The Jungle Man >
They Don’t Know (tease) >
Here Come’s The Jungle Man >
Change/Reform >
Hang ‘Em High >
Africa >
Going To Mardi Gras >
Cabbage Alley >
Going To Mardi Gras >
Porter’s bass solo >
Way Down in The Hole >
Russel Drum Clinic>
Just Kissed My Baby
Porter’s bass solo >
Just Kissed My Baby >
It Ain’t No Use

* Art sings Billy Jean (Michael Jackson)

(Photo by Dino Perrucci)

(Photo by Dino Perrucci)

The Funky Meters (02.16.11)

Art “Poppa Funk” Neville – Keys
George Porter, Jr. – Bass
Brian Stoltz – Guitar
Russell Batiste, Jr. – Drums

Special Guests:
Nigel Hall– Vocals/Keys
Eric Krasno – Guitar
Adam Deitch – Drums

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

The second night had more of a turn out.  People had heard the buzz about the previous night and the venue was now 60-70% full.  My girlfriend, Ananda, was flying in from NOLA directly to the show.  As she flew towards us to the airport, my NYC crew and I hightailed it from Rockwood Music Hall after watching Nigel Hall Band perform on their quaint stage.  We all had our rage faces on as there would also be a third show we would be hitting after The Funky Meters.  As well, we had the knowledge of knowing that the Nigel Hall Band would be joining The Funky Meters on stage later that night. The excitement was never ending.

I had flown in straight from New Orleans, made my way through the crowd of smiling faces. Instant reunion with Jam Cruisers, NOLA to NY music lovers and friends old and new. It was my turn to come to their town. Love was everywhere, and the hugs and smiles were abundant, on stage and off. ~ NOLA Resident, Ananda Atmore

Porter was wearing yet another form of tie-dye shirt and Batiste was in another sports jersey, this time white.  The boys don’t stray too much from their signature styles.  Just like their first night, they started off with songs from The Meters catalog with favorites like “Here Come The Meter Man” and “Look-Ka Py Py.”

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

The covers of the evening were Roger Miller‘s “Chug-A-Lug,” Professor Longhair‘s “Tipitinas” and “Big Chief.”  The encore gave us “Higher” and “Sing A Simple Song,” both  Sly and The Family Stone covers while “Them Changes” was a Buddy Miles tune made popular by Jimi Hendrix and Band of Gypsies. “Peace Pipe” has me a bit confused. A friend suggested it might be a Mardi Gras Indian song.

“Love Slip Up on Ya” is a song specific to The Funky Meters catalog and Brian Stoltz once again blasted us with his masterful guitar. “Ride Me Dunky,” also a Funky Meters tune, saw Porter giving us his deep bass lines.

Stepping off stage for only a few moments, the fellas came on stage to perform “Be My Lady.”  However, as amazing as they were alone, The Funky Meters show blasted out of  control when the Nigel Hall Band took the stage for the remainder of the three-part encore.  Nigel grabbed the microphone, Adam Deitch sat in on drums and Eric Krasno played a second guitar for Sly Stone’s “Sing A Simple Song” and “Higher.”

I heard the first few notes of a familiar song, and thought “could it be?”. Are they really going to play it? YES! It was “Be my Lady”! This is an old Meters song that I haven’t heard performed in several years now, and a long time favorite of mine. This was my golden musical moment, and hearing them perform this song made the whole trip worth it in one moment. ~ NOLA Resident Ananda Atmore

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

The energy on stage was palpable. Watching Eric Krasno play across from Brian Stoltz was magnificent.  Two of my favorite guitarists having so much fun with each other on stage. Russell Batiste, Jr. banging on a cowbell, dancing all over the stage as he helped knock the energy up to another level. Art “Poppa Funk” Neville needed key changes shouted out a few times and then he left Nigel Hall to take over as he walked away for a breather and took the time to dance around to the music.

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

The Royal Family remained on the stage with the The Funky Meters to close out the show! And what a show this was.  The second night had been pure fire!! It was off to the third show of the night: DJ Nutritious‘s Bembe rage with Nigel Hall and Stephen Chopek.

Download Link To The Funky Meters @ The Brooklyn Bowl (02.16.11)

Set list – Night II
Here Comes The Meter Man >
Look-Ka Py Py >
Too Funky >
Bass intro Too >
Chug A Lug
Love Slip Up On Ya
Keep on Marching (Funky Soldier)
That Ain’t The Way to Carry On
Funkify Your Life
My Baby
Tipitina’
Hoo Chie Coo
Ride Me Dunky/Soul Island
Message From The Meters
People Say
Bass Intro too >
Big Chief>
Peace Pipe

Encore
Be My Lady
Sing A Simple Song*
Higher*
Them Changes*
Cissy Strut – tease*

*w/guest Nigel Hall, Eric Krasno & Adam Deitch

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

The Funky Meters (02.17.11)

Art “Poppa Funk” Neville – Keys
George Porter, Jr. – Bass
Brian Stoltz – Guitar
Russell Batiste, Jr. – Drums

Special Guests:
Eric Krasno – Guitar
?uestlove – Drums
Nikie Glaspie – Drums

(Photo by Alison Murphy)

(Photo by Allison Murphy)

Here we were, the third night of The Funky Meters.  The house was packed and this time, I was going to rage front row, right under George Porter, Jr.. I had taken myself from the front of the stage the previous nights to write on the elevated side of The Brooklyn Bowl because I knew I would dance away from my responsibility of writing if I was up front. Again, he is my religion after all.

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

As I walked around the venue throughout the show, I ran into musicians like Nikie Glaspie who was utilizing a bowling with her friends.  Henry Butler was standing amongst the crowd with a huge smile on his face.  Joe Russo and Eric Krasno were watching from backstage while the owner himself, Pete Shapiro, positioned himself atop a speaker right on the side stage sucking the entire thing in with a beaming persona.

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

It started off the same as the nights previous.  Batiste was wearing another green jersey, Porter was in yet another tie-die, Stoltz was in a button up with a few hipped out accessories. I forgot to mention his Kenny Rogers look he’s raging this tour.  He pulls it off nicely! The tapers were out in full force.  Sadly, even though I saw tapers each night, the third night was the only recording that could be found. Enjoy!

Download Link To The Funky Meters @ The Brooklyn Bowl (02.17.11)

The funky foursome brought the heat immediately after a funky, funky warm-up jam got the night started right.  Porter had his feet firmly planted into the ground as he put the bass in our face front row.

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

The night was full of amazing, jamming covers.  We got “Rainy Day Women” by Bob Dylan, “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton and “Love the One Your With” by Crosby, Stills and Nash.

(Photo by Alison Murphy)

(Photo by Allison Murphy)

There was a KILLER Rock-a-billy vibe during “Big Boss Man”, a Luther Dixon song made famous by Jimmy Reed.  They ran through “Simple Song” again, the Sly cover from the previous night.  The crowd was on fire, singing along to everything, filling in the lyrics when Art couldn’t remember them as they barely got through The Allman Brothers‘ “Midnight Rider” where Stoltz saved the day with a ripping guitar solo.

We had a few repeats with “Funkify Your Life”, “Hoochie Coo”, “Fiyo On The Bayo”, “Junko Partner” and “Cabbage Alley” among others. All audience favorites that we didn’t mind hearing over and over again.  “Aiko Aiko,” a James Crawford song made famous by the one and only Dr. John had the place erupting with dancing feet.


(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

The entire night was so high energy and the event was capping off such a full week of funky New Orleans Love, it was just outstanding. Towards the end of the night, Eric Krasno, Nikie Glaspie and ?uestlove joined the stage for a percussion driven rage. Batiste, Glaspie and ?uestlove took turns beating the drums, the cowbell and just about anything else they could find to hit within their reach.  Krasno was back on guitar facing off across Stoltz.

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

The encore saw Krasno leave the stage and then jump back on as they weren’t done with him yet. The wicked funky “Keep on Stretching Your Rubber Band” and “Audubon Zoo”, originally titled “All Asked For You” and changed by their manager, closed the three night run.

The 3rd night didn’t disappoint either. The set list speaks for itself really. They played again Sing a Simple Song, which had me on the front row jumping and smiling even more enthusiastically than before. And the encore of Keep on Stretching your rubber band. Pure Funky Meters magic. ~ NOLA Resident Ananda Atmore

The Funk Meter was off the charts this last night.  Even though watching The Funky Meters is similar to watching Furthur, in the respect that they aren’t spring chickens anymore, they brought the FIYO to the Brooklyn Bowl the past three nights.

(Photo by Alison Murphy)

(Photo by Allison Murphy)

I watched as all the men got up, gathered in the center of the stage and bowed before us.  Porter walked to the front of the stage and I got a smile and handshake from him as he continued down the line of people in the front row shaking hands and thanking the audience for coming. I might never wash this hand.

Alison Murphy caught Porter shaking my hand! (Photo by Alison Murphy)

Allison Murphy caught Porter shaking my hand! (Photo by Alison Murphy)

The final part of this musical adventure placed me upstairs in the backstage area, shaking hands, hugging and taking pictures with George Porter Jr.  It was a trio of nights that I will NEVER forget. I hope you enjoy(ed) the shows!!

Setlist: Night III
Jam >
Funky Miracle >
Funkify Your Life >
Rainy Day Women >
9 to 5
Hey Pocky Way >Cissy Strutt >
Love the one you’re with >
Hoochie Coo
He Bite Me (the Dragon) >
Voodoo Child* >
Fiyo on the Bayou >
Big Boss Man >
Aiko Aiko ^ >
Junko Partner >Midnight Rider >
Simple Song #  >
Cabbage Alley >
Baby What you want me to do >
Hey Pocky Way

Encore
(Keep on Stretching) your Rubber Band
Audubon Zoo (All asked for you)
* w/ Billy Jean (Michael Jackson) tease
^ w/ She’ll be coming round the mountain
# w/ Krasno, ?uestlove, Nikki Galaspie
(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

(Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

Me and my Religion :) GPJR!!  (Photo by Ananda)

Me and my religion 🙂 GPJR!! (Photo by Ananda)

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www.gatheringofthevibes.comGathering of the Vibes Music Festival: Friday (07.30.10)

Day I Review: Gathering of the Vibes VX @ Bridgeport, CT (07.29.10)

The Cosmic Casbah...

The Cosmic Casbah...

Jesus, my spoiled ass forgot what a hot tent feels like in the morning when the sun finally seeks you out.  MY GOODNESS!!  But considering the stormy conditions we had to endure at last year’s Vibes, the sun was completely welcoming.

VIP Perk #1: You have sectioned camping in the section of the park that has the most tree canopy coverage.  The general camping is located in mainly open fields and parking lots.

The Casbah...

The Casbah...

Quote of the morning: *With a mischievous look** “Are you trying to tempting me with a good time??”

We woke up to a gorgeous day.  We spent the morning relaxing, waking up slowly with our friends at the Cosmic Casbah.  We were greeted with friends of ours who were only just now passing out, a table full of breakfast foods like bacon and eggs, muffins and fruit, and music.  I crashed onto the mats with my plate of food, listening to the music, letting it breath life into me to start my day.

We knew that for breakfast we were being dished some New Orleans ROCK by way of  The Radiators so we hit the field pretty early, only missing Billy Simons Band on the Green Vibes stage. You know, it’s almost impossible to catch all the music at a festival if you are solo but with a running crew it takes that much more time to settle.

VIP TENT! (Night shot!)

VIP TENT! (Night shot!)

Eat me!VIP Perk #2: During this time, we utilized the free food in the VIP tent where they had wonderful selection of snacks and beverages to sustain us ALL DAY.  At $6-$10 for a single meal or $4 for a water in general vending, these 24-hour snacks of fruit, pretzels, chips and salsa, candies, sodas, water, juices, milk, coffees and teas were BEYOND welcoming, sustaining and economical.  It’s possible to spend $60 on water before even considering food at a festival.  And that is just the 24-hour spread. From 11am-3pm you are offered a buffet of hot meats, salads, pastas, and desserts to chose from.  And generally, if you are starving and want another half of a turkey wrap, you could easily ask for one.  We made our rounds of good mornings and set up shop by the Karma Wash. It was time to focus on the music.

Gathering of the Vibes 2010

Gathering of the Vibes 2010

The Radiators

Dave Malone – guitar, vocals
Ed Volker – keyboards, vocals
Camile Baudoin – guitar
Reggie Scanlan – bass
Frank Bua Jr. – drums

I danced into the field listening to The Radiators.  Their bluesy-rocky vibe catching my feet and ears completely off guard.  Being a huge fan of New Orleans Funk, I knew anything coming from NOLA would be better then good.  I was excited to hear some NOLA ROCK from the band considered the #1 Rock band on the NOLA scene!!!  They didn’t disappoint.

They came out blasting with rock -n-roll.  For all you Phish heads out there, Phish opened for this band back in the 90’s.  So did Widespread Panic.  Where as both of those bands have now reached high commercial success, The Radiators have always been a deeply respective, yet decisively underground group on the scene.

Ragers!

Ragers!

An unavoidable NOLA signature, their funk layer was evident in the music immediately, coming from Ed Volker on keys.  There was also that grungy swamp rock layer by way of Camile Baudoin on guitar.  It was rough and rugged.  The keys sounded almost out of tune but on purpose reminiscent of Professor Longhair in sound, not style.  They were a tight group, the guitar players really made some hot sounds with their axes, with twang here, rock there, and smooth swamp grunge in the middle.  It was fun music to dance too, sway too, but really it was something to slither too.

Setlist: I Like It Like That, Lets Radiate, Hard Rock Kid >, Lost Highway, Sitting on Top of the World, Crazy Mona, River Run, Soul on Fire, The Death Of The Blues, Junco Partner, You Ain’t Going Nowhere, Rosie

Download: The Radiators @ Gathering of the Vibes (07.30.10)

Gathering of the Vibes 2010

Gathering of the Vibes 2010

 

Kung Fu

Dave Livolsi – Bass
Kris Jensen – Sax
Todd Stoops – Keyboards
Tim Palmieri – Guitar
Adrian Tramontano – Drums

Kung Fu @ GOTV 2010

Kung Fu @ GOTV 2010

 

Kung Fu @ GOTV 2010

Kung Fu's Todd Stoops @ GOTV 2010

 

We needed to charge our phones so headed over towards the Green Vibe stage and that is where I heard the  funky, odd sounding keys reminiscent of Alan Evans.  But maybe a bit too much guitar.  It was not as solid as it could be.  It sounded choppy at times.  Definitely took some getting used too. So, since they confused me, yet, intrigued me…of course, I had to check them out.

Kung Fu's Kris Jensen @ GOTV 2010

Kung Fu's Kris Jensen @ GOTV 2010

When I approached the stage, I recognized Kris Jensen right away from Dickey Betts.  His horn brought a delicious element to an otherwise decent band.  I wasn’t a big fan of Todd Stoops singing, or any of the singing really, but he knew his way around that keyboard.   Tim Palmieri looked familiar as well and I realized later he has played with numerous artists I knew.  He was great.  Ultimately, the band itself was comprised of some talented musicians who tore up their solos but sometimes they fell off the page when they were playing as a group.  The following video will show you what I mean…not bad their at the end, huh?

Gathering of the Vibes 2010

Gathering of the Vibes 2010

Jackie Greene

Jackie Greene – Guitar
Nathan Dale – Sax
Jeremy Plog – Keyboards
John Hofer – Guitar

Jackie Greene @ GOTV 2010

Jackie Greene @ GOTV 2010

Jackie Greene @ GOTV 2010

Jackie Greene @ GOTV 2010

I was soooo ready to get down to Jackie Greene‘s set that when I heard him start during the Kung Fu set, I took off running.  Jackie Greene is a wonderful artist who has an old soul sound and a yung sexy body 😉  Young and talented, open and warm, HOT!!!  A rocker, a funker, a jammer, a rager on top of being a keys player, songwriter and a guitarist., electric, acoustic, loungy, rock, whatever…he does it all.

I made it front row for Jackie Greene where I ran into a few of my favorite Jam Cruisers.  He came out rocking right off the bat.  The second song was a new rock tune, Medicine. And I love a good harmonica. He slowed it down with a beautiful Shaken. Jut an upbeat rock vibe from Jackie all the way through.  Perfect set for that perfect sunny afternoon.

Another Tiny Rager!

Another Tiny Rager!

He blew me away.  Tight, on point, smooth and simple.  Jackie Greene isn’t someone who needs lights and fluff.  He is just talent.  He had the whole field dancing and I noticed that the ladies were ogling over him as much as I was.  I try not to but sometimes, just DAYUM! Animal was just sexy and finally I was enjoying a singer for the first time that day.  And finally, inviting drummer John Molo (Phil & Friends) to the stage,  showing love to Jerry, he raged the hell out of his encore covering Scarlet Begonias, one of my favorite Jerry songs that houses one of my favorite Grateful Dead lyrics:

Once in a while you get shown the light/In the strangest of places if you look at it right.

Setlist: I’m So Gone, Medicine, Farewell, So Long, Goodbye, A Moment of Temporary Color, Gone Wanderin’, Shakey Ground, Animal, Spooky Tina, Shaken, Tell Me Mama, Tell Me Right, Hollywood ->, Tomorrow Never Knows >, Taxman ->, Tomorrow Never Knows, Scarlet Begonias *, Like A Ball And Chain

Download: Jackie Greene Live at Gathering of the Vibes; Seaside Park on 2010-07-30 (July 30, 2010)

MacPodz

Nick Ayers – Percussion, Flute and Vox
Brennan Andes – Bass and Vox
Jesse Clayton – Keys
Griffin Bastian – Drums
Ross Huff – Trumpet, Flugelhorn and Vox

The Macpodz @ GOTV 2010

The Macpodz @ GOTV 2010

Surrounded by creativity!

Surrounded by creativity!

Another cell phone charger exchange. We wanted to make sure that we could always get in touch with Issac so Jay and I would alternate charging our phones making sure one of us had a functioning one at all times.  Where I generally might have left my phone to die in my tent since I was actually camping and not in a house, this couldn’t be the case this festival.  I, of course, ended up using it much more by having it on my person.  Alas, I am addicted to technology 🙂 Because of this, I also was able to check out the side stage performances and here we were with The Macpodz.

Just like Kung Fu, I was drawn towards the stage because of what I heard coming from the keyboardist, Jesse Clayton. Sounded GOOD! Their image immediately stood out to me, not that it matters but it was like a warped frat house up there. I enjoyed the trumpet as well.  Other then that, meh! Nothing would hae sounded good to me at time, knowing who was coming on the Main stage next.

Steve Kimock Crazy Engine

Steve Kimock – Guitars
John Morgan Kimock – Drums
Bernie Worrell – Keys
Bobby Vega – bass

Steve Kimonk Crazy Engine @ GOTV 2010

Steve Kimonk Crazy Engine @ GOTV 2010

One of my favorite sets of the day.  When is Steve Kimock not good?  When does he never just sound so perfect and beautiful and full of rage at the same time making you dance to PRETTY music.  And here we had the debut of a NEW CRAZY ENGINE!

Such a signature sound with Kimock, that guitar. So light, airy, happy, funky and jammy.  He always has such lovely melodies throughout his music. His songs engage different emotions with every measure.  I love him.  The addition of keyboard legend, Bernie Worrell was a treat for all of us.  He threw in Row Row Row Your Boat, The Star- Spangled Banner and all kinds of silly licks from nostalgic tunes throughout his solos.

Steve Kimock and son, John Morgan @ GOTV 2010

Steve Kimock and son, John Morgan @ GOTV 2010

Wavy Gravy - blowing bubbles during Kimock set

Wavy Gravy - blowing bubbles during Kimock set

Bobby Vega bassed us out on Funky B4 Five, a lovely melodic jam where a fun response comes from the crowd at the end of the chorus.  Everything is Everything brought out a rapping Chris Burger (Alphabet Soup, Band of Brotherz) who began with the band introductions. Bernie funked out the keys and it was just a funk fest in the field.  Closing with Parliament Funkadelic‘s Red Hot Mama, the guitar just sounded so hot and Bernie Worrell was in his element.  John Kimock never stood out to me during this set but I do know he is a wonderful fresh drummer who I hope hits our scene with a tornado like force one of these days.

Setlist: A New Africa, Five B4 Funk, Crazy Engine, Everything is Everything, Red Hot Mama

Download: Steve Kimock Crazy Engine Live at Gathering of the Vibes on 2010-07-30 (July 30, 2010)

We again made our way to the Silver Lining booth where we were charging our phones with our friend, Thud.  Once again, a decent sounding song caught my ear.  Quinn Sullivan was playing but I didn’t have time to stop and pay attention.  I had a 15 year old to check in with and feed and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings were up next on stage.

Sahron Jones and the Dap Kings - Promo shot

Sahron Jones and the Dap Kings - Promo shot

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

Sharon Jones – Vocals

THE DAP-KINGS are:
Homer Steinweiss – Drums
Binky Griptite – Guitar
Boogaloo Valez – Congas
Dave Guy – Trumpet
Tommy TNT Brenneck – Guitar
Bosco Mann – Bass
Neal Sugarman – Tenor
Ian Jendrickson – Smith – Baritone

There are certain bands where words never do it justice, and sometimes, they don’t even do themselves justice, because they are just THAT good.  Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings have consistently performed, blowing the ears and minds of millions of people with every performance. This performance was no exception.   Just stop the program.  Just end it all right here.  No one can touch this woman.  She is FIRE.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings @ GOTV 2010

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings @ GOTV 2010

Sharon Jones (Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

Sharon Jones (Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis)

Sharon Jones didn’t join the stage immediately.  First, the stage just filled with DAPPER looking men and their instruments.   The first song consisted of the horns blasting, the funk machine igniting and it was POPPIN’.   After the first few songs, Sharon Jones joined the stage and well…I just really don’t know how to describe her.  She is like a bolt of lightning.  Her pores OOZE soul.  Her dance moves are spirited and it was as if the music inside her was controlling her like a puppet with strings.  Her eyes closing and opening as the passion in the music gained momentum.  She kicked her shoes off at one point and just brought down the house with every single word and note.  Just watch this woman perform.

Check out this video of The Vibes performance:

Check out the video for the title track from the 2007 album “100 Days, 100 Nights.” in it’s entirety.


Robert Randolph & The Family Band @ GOTV 2010

Robert Randolph & The Family Band @ GOTV 2010

Robert Randolph and the Family Band

Robert Randolph – Pedal Steel, Guitar
Danyel Morgan – Bass
Marcus Randolph – drums
Adam Smirnoff – Guitar
Lenesha Randolph – Backup Vocals
Brett Haas – Keyboardist

Robert Randolph & The Family Band @ GOTV 2010

Robert Randolph & The Family Band @ GOTV 2010

THANK GOD!!!!  I was not sure what to expect from this set.  I had seen Robert Randolph a few weeks earlier in New York City and had witnessed one of the worst Randolph performances I had ever seen.  I almost cried because my heart hurt from thinking such bad thoughts of the show.  It wasn’t because he didn’t play his songs well but because his new songs are just not of the caliber of AWESOMENESS that they were in his early years.

My Tribe had to be up front for this performance and so we were, dead center.  As I approached the front row, it looked as if Robert had found his roots again.  Where a tie had been worn at the previous show, Robert was now wearing a liberating bandanna with a long tail.  Where the white guy behind the mic were doing most of the singing at the previous show, Robert was now throwing us the licks and doin’ the spittin’ on the mic.  Where as Robert was on his guitar most of the time at the previous show, today, he gave an amazing chance to a few lucky guys in the audience and stuck mainly to his pedal steel where his fingers knew no boundaries. His energy was contagious…

Robert Randolph & The Family Band @ GOTV 2010

Robert Randolph & The Family Band @ GOTV 2010

He brought the stage to fire with an old song right out of the hatch: Ted’s Jam, one of my top three favorite Randolph’s tunes. With this song, it just escalated into one of my favorite, hottest Robert Randolph performances.  I could write pages about it but I will write about my favorite memory of the set.

Towards the end of the set, Robert Randolph said he needed some help from and audience member to rage a song.  The first guy got on stage and immediately proved he had no chops. This happened with 2 other men before Frederick Aidan Pagnani from Freddy and the Yeti’s jumped on stage to Robert’s delight.  Once he started playing, this 19 year old (we found that out talking to him in the VIP then) held his own against Robert Randolph and The Family Band.  Check it out:

Setlist: Ted’s Jam, Back to Wall, Travel Shoes, Them Bones, Untitled, I’m Not Listening, Papa Was a Rolling Stone, Deliver Me, If I Had My Way, E, It Don’t Matter

Download: Robert Randolph [and the Family Band] Live at Gathering of the Vibes on 2010-07-30 (July 30, 2010)

Furthur @ GOTV 07.30.10

Furthur @ GOTV 07.30.10 (Photo by Jeff Dupuis)

Furthur

Phil Lesh – Bass
Bob Weir – Guitar
Jeff Chimenti – Keyboards
John Kadlecik – Guitar
Joe Russo – Drums
Jeff Pearson – Vocals
Sunshine Becker – Vocals

The headliner for the evening was Furthur.  Just like the Randolph set, here was another group that I was hoping was going do a better then job then I had seen them last.  If you might recall, there was giant whirlwind chatter about the Furthur show, specifically Bob Weir’s performance, at Nokia Theatre in Times Square last Wednesday. What a difference.

“Seal your face right off your head

Between Dark Star Orchestra and Furthur, it was arguable who had performed a better set.  Both nights were magical recreations of some tightly played nostalgic tunes.  Where as Dark Star seemed to be more of stand out performance by Jeff Mattson, Furthur’s performance felt like more of a cohesive group effort and Bobby was on point.  The set list contained a plethora of sing along tunes and provided platforms for intense jams during the 4 hours slot.

There was a gorgeous glow worm that was walked through the 15,000 person audience which  I was able to catch on film!

Now, here is the song in it’s entirety with the appearance of the glow worm 🙂

Furthur @ GOTV 2010

Furthur @ GOTV 2010 (Photo by Jeff Dupuis)

Set I: The Golden Road, Jack Straw, Ramble On Rose, Dupree’s Diamond Blues, Friend of The Devil, Estimated Prophet> , Eyes of The World>, Not Fade Away,

Set II: Playing In The Band, Althea, Wharf Rat>, He’s Gone>, Scarlet Begonias>, The Wheel, Standing On The Moon, Help On The Way>, Slipknot!>, Franklin’s Tower, crowd/donor rap/tuning,

Encore: Terrapin Station Suite

Download: Furthur Live at Gathering of the Vibes; Seaside Park on 2010-07-30 (July 30, 2010)

——————–

Move on to: Day III Review: Gathering of the Vibes VX @ Bridgeport, CT (07.31.10)

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7 Walkers @ The Brooklyn Bowl

7 Walkers @ The Brooklyn Bowl

The Grateful Dead and New Orleans.  Two epic names.  Names that will go down in history as forever changing the way we see and hear music.    One a group and one a location; both giants in the world of music.  Tonight at The Brooklyn Bowl, The 7 Walkers, a Papa Mali project extended from both, would bring us the greatest combination of NOLA Funk and The Grateful Dead.  An epic night of music.

Being praised as being one of the finest post-Jerry/Dead projects, this band is truly amazing. The line-up is simple yet dripping in super heavy talent and experience, consisting of:

Papa Mali – Guitar

Bill Kreutzmann – Drums

George Porter, Jr. – Bass

Matthew Hubbard – Keys

What?!?! SERIOUSLY!?!?!  I mean, how wonderful is that four-man band right there?  Now, I don’t even know Matthew Hubbard but the energy the other three bring to the stage alone, before even touching their instruments, it’s something you can’t handle.  Seriously, seeing giants like that walk out on to the stage, a mere 5 feet in front of you…your chest swells and your fingers start to tingle.  I imagine I am taking in…how do I say it?  It’s like they have brought the past with them.  All that energy from their past gigs, their past experiences…their connections to Jerry.  It was all centered right there on an intimate stage in Brooklyn aimed directly at us.  And with George Porter, Jr. on bass instead of Reed Mathis…FIRE!  How paralyzingly wonderful.  IMAGINE!!!  Bill Kreutzmann has played at every single Grateful Dead show ever.  Jerry’s BOY!  I mean come ON!!  Talent and experience at its BEST!!!  I know I say it all the time, but I WAS SOOO EXCITED!

Stage set to RAGE!

Stage set to RAGE!

When I first arrived at the venue it was no where close to being full.  In fact, we all commented on that fact as we found it shocking.  Once again, most people don’t recognize INSANELY GREAT music when it’s right in their back yard.

Matthew Hubbard @ The Brooklyn Bowl

Matthew Hubbard @ The Brooklyn Bowl

As I came around the bend from the bar, the dance floor was bare.  That is, except for the entire front of the stage which was littered end to end by members of Funk Live to the left, Jam Cruiser pals to the right, my taper and deadhead buddies smack in the middle  and other friends scattered about.  I can’t forget to mention how almost every single person was wearing a Dead shirt or NOLA pride shirt.  I LOOOVE the sight of my front row homies.  I truly do.  A line of faces all lighting up with smiles and I feel like I am with family.  It was a hug fest for about 5 minutes.  Always a great way to start off one’s night 🙂

(Tonight was also special because I finally got to meet up with fellow contributing writer, Brett B.!!  Big hugs homie!  I love what you have to say about music and your tats are hot!)

Bill is all smiles durin' a lil prep work...

Bill is all smiles durin' a lil prep work...

I have been to the Brooklyn Bowl a LOT.  But on this night, after a while, maybe it was just me or perhaps it was the pure energy of the room, but the venue seemed brighter, the atmosphere seemed looser and the general vibe seemed lighter then most nights at The Bowl.  It is hard not to feel comfortable and at ease in a room full of deadheads and hippies, especially ones colored so bright! I could feel it and my smile grew.

They came out, George’s back to the audience, Kreutzmann with a huge smile on his face getting situated.  And then immediately flew into a jamming rage.  First song on the set list read: SPACE, how appropriate! And SPACE they gave us, putting us all into the heady lock down that would define the night.

Bill Kreutzmann @ The Brooklyn Bowl

Bill Kreutzmann @ The Brooklyn Bowl

Papa Mali @ The Brooklyn Bowl

Papa Mali @ The Brooklyn Bowl

Right into the memory of Jerry, we were delivered DEALPapa Mali releases a soulful growl as he leads the lyrics:  “Don’t let the deal go down.”  With his guitar resting on his portly belly, Papa delivers us the first guitar rage of the night and mouths drop.  To be honest, I wondered if I had ever seen him before. I’d listened to him a million times but I was seeing him play for the first time right there.  He was as good as I hoped he’d be.

The next song tugged on heart strings.  Men had their eyes closed and they were swaying.  Something about the Grateful Dead makes men romantic it seems, am I alone in thinking this?   In this case, they were thinking of their man crush, Pigpen, as Papa continued singing with Mr. Charlie.  At the end of the song, Kreutzmann raged up on his legs and down on the drums.  A little too hard cause the speakers to his left came crashing down on him, grazing his leg.  See, the power flies right off these bastards.  That power leaving the stage and slamming right into us, or in this case, the speakers.  You can’t make this stuff up.

George Porter, Jr. @ The Brooklyn Bowl

George Porter, Jr. @ The Brooklyn Bowl

We had a little taste of The Dead.  Now it was time for some NOLA flavor as Porter was tapped to sing Hey Pocky Way.  I am beginning to think this is the most covered song ever.  But the fact that it’s over played means everyone knows it and the crowd goes wild.  And on this night, the best part about this song was the audience.  Three songs in and the place was wild.  WILD!!  Oh, how I loved hearing Porter‘s voice.  I immediately started day dreaming of the boat and what the possibilities might be.  During his rage, Porter was off his chair and back down, his legs kicking him all over the place, he was IN IT!!  And then it got silent as Kreutzmann picked up his drums and started striking the skins fast as lighting.

The 7 Walkers @ The Brroklyn Bowl

The 7 Walkers @ The Brroklyn Bowl

Death Don’t Have No Mercy, a Grateful Dead tune, was next.  Matthew Hubbard stopped playing the keys and picked up the trombone that had been resting on the stage to his left. Such a slow song, such a soulful song, such a Jerry song.  Papa gave us a killer solo that reminisced of the swagger Jerry distilled through his guitar, all the while you could hear undertones of Papa trademark bayou style.  It was sultry, sexy, soulful.  People were dancing all over the venue, utilizing the open space to benefit their moods and environments.  It was perfect for so many reasons.

7 Walkers @ The Brooklyn Bowl

7 Walkers @ The Brooklyn Bowl (w/ excellent background artwork)

And then it was theme song time.  Matthew Hubbard gave us an amazing Organ Intro. He was REALLY good.  I am a sucker for keys but man, he was GOOD.  Not sure what I thought about all his “touch-down” moves he banged out after every solo but kick ass solos non-the-less.  Rage!  After a few minute of solid keys, 7 Walkers, new lyrics by Robert Hunter, was blasted out of the belly ‘de Papa.  As I stare at him, he started to morph into one of the characters from Where the Wild Things Are and I brought myself down to reality.  The music was trippy to say the least.  Matt had now jumped to the harmonica, jack of all trades this guy.  Papa Mali absolutely brought it with this song.  At one point, I feel like they teased Shining Star.

“7 Walkers walking in the sky / 7 Walkers watching from on high / 7 Walkers offer their protection / 7 Walkers lookin’ down from heaven”

Matthew Hubbard @ The Brooklyn Bowl

Matthew Hubbard @ The Brooklyn Bowl

The place was on FIRE and it wasn’t close to set break.  Everyone was having a grand ‘ol time at this point. The front row was littered with Dead Heads who longed for tour or just to be close to Kreutzmann.  Then you had the folks there who were ragin’ cause Papa Mali and Porter are the NOLA FUNK BOMBS!  Papa sang most of Lay My Burden Down and keys harmonized. Then the music stops for a bit.  Porter strummin’ on the strings, keys filling in the background.  Papa Mali says, “It’s nice to be back in Brooklyn.  I know I can get a nice slice.”  And right into The Dead’s Sugaree. Porter sang this while Matt raged the keys and Papa harmonized.  There was a big group hug between a bunch of the heads to my left at that moment up front of stage.  It made me so happy, so very happy. Others followed suit.  The venue was at its brightest that moment.  The love was palpable.  The joy was visual.  Exactly what this music represents, exactly what it was meant to evoke.

Wharf Rat closed out the set.  A slow, soulful song.  It was out of control with Papa‘s drawing voice.  And they captured that quintessential Dead sound so well, probably without even trying.  We were so VERY VERY pleased.

Artwork behind Bill

Artwork behind Bill

The 7 Walkers did not waste anytime kicking off the second set.  Kreutzmann took a raging drum solo and into Bertha, a Grateful Dead favorite, everyone was bouncing on their toes, kicking their heels, flipping their skirts. It was a hoedown of as we all sang together.  Hubbard was able to show us some of his fabulous key work.  Scaling up and down the board and striking the keys with ferocity.  Totally on point and captivating me.  Then Kreutzmann gave us the real thing. The real solo, HIS time to rage.  My buddy took a GREAT HD video of it leading into Lovelight.

Matthew Hubbard @ The Brooklyn Bowl

Matthew Hubbard @ The Brooklyn Bowl

Papa and Porter play off each other for a few measures before Papa pulls out to jam on his own line.   Kreutzmann tapped the cymbals.  And so Bottle Up And Go begins and starts to melts our faces.  It was time for the trippy guitar space of Papa‘s mind to play with the audience for a while.  Everyone got lost.  No words. Just SPACE as Porter holds the bass line allowing our own minds to take over and find it’s own adventure.

Bill & George @ The Brooklyn Bowl

Bill & George @ The Brooklyn Bowl

Papa Mali @ The Brooklyn Bowl

Papa Mali @ The Brooklyn Bowl

I Know Your Rider, another crowd pleasure, brought everyone’s head from swaying down to forward facing again and singing with the band.  Happy shiny people.  Another great keys rage from Hubbard and the dance party continued all over the venue.  Papa slide his guitar all across the stage and in our face.  This was a raging jam to be sure.  As I stood back and watched these masters ripe our faces off, I wondered about the other groups I love watching jam so much and how they don’t HOLD A CANDLE to the greatness that was taking place on stage.

George Porter, Jr. @ The Brooklyn Bowl

George Porter, Jr. @ The Brooklyn Bowl

I went on an adventure during Early In The Morning & Hey Baby Now so I don’t recall much.  It’s always nice to have something to look forward to in the recordings 🙂  I was not paying attention at this point, pen down, dancing all over the front row.  Bliss.  I was among my favorite friends, among my favorite songs and favorite musicians in my favorite venue.  How do YOU all feel when you are in that situation?? 🙂 Think about it and hold on to the good feeling you get!!

Papa Mali @ The Brooklyn Bowl

Papa Mali @ The Brooklyn Bowl

The New Orleans Crawl, I believe a new song written for the 7 Walkers by Robert Hunter, gave us a taste of NOLA again but more on the Bayou side then the funk….Professor Longhair-esque.  And finally, Goin Down The Road Feelin Bad closed out the set.  They had so much fun with this song.  You could tell they didn’t want to put down their instruments.  If they did, they were sure fooling us.  High energy, dancing in the STREETS!! As they left the stage, some hard core people were litterally crawling on it to get set lists and picks and whatnot but noone moved a muscle.  All screaming, the show would not be over.  The audience refused to let that happen.

Bill Kreutzmann @ The Brooklyn Bowl

Bill Kreutzmann @ The Brooklyn Bowl

In a lovely tribute to the premature death of Gary Coleman earlier that morning, The 7 Walkers came out and played the Different Strokes Theme amongst Junko Partner.   It was fitting and we all remembered our funny little friend as we danced around in the best of spirits.

Everyone was SO SUPER HIGH after the show.  Bouncing all over the place, I said goodbye to all my favorite people.  By far, this was the best turn out of MY musical krewe, forget the rest of NYC who missed an amazing musical opportunity.  The turn out from tonight had allowed all my various groups and friendship circles to collide and it was AWESOME!!!  To be able to turn around and look in any direction to see the WIDEST grins on my friends faces.  Music brings people together and that night, The 7 Walkers had aided in bringing us all much closer.

It was a magical night in the Brooklyn Bowl, that is for sure.  I PRAY that 7 Walkers comes around again.  And if they do, I suggest you pick up your ticket right away because the word from this performance has already spread like wild fire and they will be sure to sell out second time around!

Check out The 7 Walkers summer tour schedule.

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The Neville Brothers @ The Nokia Theater

The musical reawakening of New Orleans over the past five years has been something very exciting to watch.  After that bitch named Katrina, the appreciation for New Orleans and it’s musical community has become one of the most visible movements in musical history.  When I think of the face of that movement I think of The Neville Family.  The name epitomizes New Orleans, especially the music community.  Tonight, I would watch legends, survivors, mentors and men bring the essence of New Orleans to a New York City stage.  Aaron agrees…

“This is a strange moment in my career,” muses Aaron. “Since Katrina I’ve devoted months and months to benefit concerts—and that’s been a blessing. My profile and the profiles of my brothers have been raised by the storm. People all over the world see us as the face of New Orleans. They want to hear us play. They want to feel that we’ve survived the storm. They want to be assured that life goes on.” ~ Aaron Neville ~

Rubblebucket @ Nokie Theater

Rubblebucket @ Nokie Theater

I arrived to the Nokia Theater a little after 8:30 knowing I would be missing Rubblebucket for the 8th time.  A friend had snagged me a $10 ticket and I was in the door and down the escalator.  Rubblebucket, opener for the night, was performing their second to last song as I arrived. I didn’t pay attention on purpose because 1) the sax/lead singer girl wasn’t playing her horn, she was just singing and 2) I refuse to truly focus on Rubblebucket until I can listen to them completely in all their raging glory.  During the last song, the horn section and a few others from the stage paraded around the audience. Still didn’t focus, mingled, got my spot with the Funk Live Krewe…on with the show…

The Neville Brothers.  New Orleans Royalty. What else is there to say?  Whenever there is a Neville performing, in whatever project, you can bet that with that name comes talent and a great show 🙂  I will tell you dead ass upfront that I can’t really stand Aaron Neville‘s falsetto.  The radio played The Nevilles SO MUCH in the 80’s/90’s and there was something about his voice.  But then again, at times I find it hauntingly beautiful and distinct.  It’s a love/hate relationship.  We struggled, Aaron and I, throughout the night but the show over all was ON FIRE!! AWESOME!  And it made me love and appreciate Aaron a little more.

The Neville Brothers @ The Nokia Theater

The Neville Brothers @ The Nokia Theater

The heart and soul of New Orleans joined the stage…..

Art Neville (Keys/Piano/Organ/ Brother #1)

Charles Neville (Saxophone/Brother #2)

Aaron Neville – Vocals/ Brother #3

Cyril Neville – Percussion/Vocals/ Brother #4

“Mean” Willie Green – Drums

Chris Severin – Bass

Michael Goods – Keys

Makuni Fukuda- Guitar

The Neville Brothers @ Nokia Theater

The Neville Brothers @ Nokia Theater

Right off the bat they flew into some funky New Orleans love with Shake Your Tambourine!  Cyril was on percussion.  Aaron’s falsetto rang out into the audience.  It was kind of weak for the start.  This is a powerful song and if you are going to open with it, hit it HARD!  They still had a little warming up to do! Charles hitting the hand bell and they grew in front of us. The drums hit harder, the singing got crisper, the tambourine rang clearer.  “The music gonna move ya,” sang the Brothers Neville.  Yes sir, the music started to move us…without a doubt.

Aaron Neville @ The Nokia Theater

Aaron Neville @ The Nokia Theater

A little gospel funk kicked it up a notch with Africa.  This song gave the room just enough funk for us to shake our hips but slow enough to be full of soul.  Art gave it to us on the keys with a kickin’ solo.  You could see the brothers gaining energy. The crowd following suit.  Charles on cowbell, always my favorite haha.  I noticed saxophones at this point and wondered if anyone from Rubblebucket might be joining the stage later.

Brother Jake had Makuni pickin’ his strings givin’ off a rock vibe.  Aaron on tambourine, drums came in and then the funky horns and keys rounded it off.  This song was hot!!  A great intro before Cyril sang the crap out of the song.  The horns, the vocals, it all just sounded so perfect together.  Still cringe a little when I hear the high Aaron but I lose track of him watching Makuni rage a fat solo.  I looked around at this point and see people all over the venue dancing all over the place.  Couples swinging, individuals groovin.  The venue was on fire and it was only the third song. It had taken them less than a song to warm up and less then three to bring the house to a ragin’ dance party of funk goodness.  Charles Neville WAILED on his saxophone towards the end and it was AWESOME as he teased Here Comes The Hotstepper.

Time for the evening’s first recognizable cover as Peggy Lee‘s Fever lit up the stage.  This is such a sexy, sexy song to me.  I find that it should be exclusively left for women like Grace Potter to sing, dancing around men, snapping their fingers.  But, The Neville’s sang it.  Aaron sang and Charles killed it on the sax.  I did love Charles during this song.  It’s a sexy, sensual song and the horn was perfect in place of the vocals.

The Neville Brothers @ The Nokia Theater

The Neville Brothers @ The Nokia Theater

As someone screams One…TWO…ONE..TWO…THREE…the horns wail, the drums pound and the tambourine shakes as Aaron screams “It might be superstition/but some kind of somethin’ goin’ on down there.”  A fun, fun, horn laden song about voodoo and witnessing its practices, originally written by Sonny Landreth.

Charles Neville @ The Nokia Theater

Charles Neville @ The Nokia Theater

There is a distinct sound with The Neville Brothers, am I right? Is it their inherent New Orleans blood? Is it the specific falsetto of the Aaron? Is it the fact that they are family?  Something about them being related allows for the sounds to ring clearer, sharper, crisper.  It’s like the Beach Boy, you always know its them.   Voodoo, a slower song, opened with horns and reminded me of driving down the road with my mother listening to The Neville Brothers on the radio.  Aaron rang out his falsetto, “You must have put voodoo on me/Oh , you must have cast a spell.”  Art Neville raged on his keys, giving us a funky, sparkling solo scaling up and down his board.  “You must have cast a spell /the way you got me loving you girl.”  Charles picks up the smaller sax and goes to TOWN as shit hits the fan when Cyril started banging his drums, his hands flying.

Cyril Neville @ The Nokia Theater

Cyril Neville @ The Nokia Theater

Oh man, Art struck the keys, plinking along in the signature style of Professor Long Hair for Big Chief. Then the horns calls the rest of the instruments in, bongos hit hard by Cyril.  Oh man, the screaming of Cyril. He went ape crazy during this song.  I would venture to guess that this was his favorite song?  He put the most effort and RAGE into this song, into his singing, into his everything.  Just full of soul and fire. CYRIL IS THE MAN!  And, dare I say it, my favorite brother.  He was, by far, the most vibrant, dynamic and radiant on stage that night.  I was able to see him with Galactic earlier this year and was excited to be seeing him again tonight. He did not disappoint.

The lights changed, the horns were low, Art layered down some jazzy keys.  This song was mainly for Charles to show us his talented horn over an awesome bass rage.  it was time for CHARLIE to shine.  There was a gorgeous ending by Charles on the sax and then a huge applause

We can never go without a ballad or six now can we?   Here came Aaron Neville’s falsetto in all it’s glory and it’s definitely an acquired taste.  Here he was singing Sam Cooke’s A Change Gonna Come.  NO ONE can sing that song even close to the way Sam sang it.  I got hooked on the original years ago and had it on repeat for quite some time in college. But here is where I keep my mouth closed and just let you see the video.

Another New Orleans staple, Brother John threw us so hard back into NOLA based funk.  Everybody sang, “Hey now!!”  This weekend was apparently Fleet Week.  Two marine girls were running through the crowd and taking pictures.  They were having more fun then any of us drinking, making out with dudes..ahhhh, I miss spring breaks but glad I am not in the military.

Yellow Moon, a more then famous Neville’s song was next.  Aaron sang his  hip-shaking tambourine vibed song.  Charles picked up another saxophone solo and floored us.  This was such a sexy hip shaking song.  I love how they sped it up and slowed it down throughout the night.  Slowin’ it down, shakin’ it slow.  Aaron with his falsetto echoing off the walls, the bongos banged by Cyril, percussion by Charles all with the bass line popping through.

Henry Butler joined the stage!

Henry Butler joined the stage!

Here we come to my personal favorite songs of the night.  A staple that never gets old, the crowd cheered as Henry Butler was brought to the stage for Pocky Way.  This familiar tune, this staple of New Orleans, never gets old.  But if for any reason, this was leaving a stale taste in anyone’s mouth, when Henry Butler joined the stage it raised everything to a whole new level, if only for one song.

It is at this point that the set list and my notes do not match up.  It was clear that they moved away from the page and did their own thing.  Charles was given some time to just rage some funky tunes through his horn.  They certainly plowed into Come To New Orleans.  “You got to get to New Orleans/You gotta show me Mardi Gras.” And then into a lovely a-cappella Gospel song where there was no music, just singing with thier pretty voices. “When this life’s over/I’ll fly away…” This was definitely a mash up, the tambourine quietly shaken and cyrill screamed.  “WHO DAT”

They just raged the Who Dat Chant +  Saints Come Marching In 🙂  As always it gets EVERYONE ALL ROWLED UP!!!!  Just a full faced rage at this point.  People jumping all over.  Then into Amazing Grace with Art on keys and Aaron on vocals soloing but together.  And finally into Bob Marley’s One Love!!  That was the icing on the cake.  The crowd was swaying, arms were being placed over our neighbors shoulders, hugs were being passed out, the love was being felt.  “Let’s get together and feel alright” said The Neville Brothers.  I think they got their point across this night on the stage at The Nokia Theater.  I held on tight to that energy as it would carry me into the 7 Walkers show the following night…

Proposed Set List (off the stage):

Tambourine

Africa

Brother Jake

Fever

Congo Square

Voo Doo

Big CHeif

Charlie

Change Gonna Come

Brother John

Yellow Moon

Pocky Way

Charlie

Funksta

Fiyo / Come To New Orleans

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The 41st New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

A Russ Agdern Perspective: Part I

Mr. Russ Agdern

Mr. Russ Agdern

What a week!  My third trip to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Jazz Fest) was nothing short of incredible.  The surprises were many, the disappointments were few, the food was awesome, and when you get to hear some of the best music in the world in one the most important musical towns in the world, you’re in for a good time.

2010 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

2010 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival takes place over the last weekend of April and first weekend in May at the New Orleans Fairgrounds, but, like most parties in this town, can’t be contained in one venue, so Fest spills out in the clubs, halls, restaurants, bars, record stores, boats, coffee houses, laundromats, Carnival float warehouses, street corners and empty lots of the Crescent City.  Two things set Jazz Fest apart from other festivals in my mind – the musical diversity and the food.

Who Dat Ville

Photo by Marisa Harford

While heavy metal, pop, opera, classical aren’t there, and quality hip hop is not so represented (The Roots and Chali 2na were both here in 2008, haven’t seen a hip hop group I like since at the fairgrounds), some of the very best in Jazz, Funk, Blues, Gospel, Zydeco, Cajun, Folk, Rock are all over the place at the fairgrounds and in the venues around town.  Ani DiFranco and Gift of Gab played club shows, members of REM sat in with Bonerama, Pearl Jam, Elvis Costello, Simon and Garfunkel, Van Morrison all played at the fairgrounds, so don’t be fooled into thinking this is solely a Jazz festival, because it ain’t.  Sure, there are 3 different jazz stages at the fairgrounds (one for general jazz, one for traditional New Orleans Dixieland Jazz, and one split between brass bands and Mardi Gras Indians) but there are also two main stages, a gospel and blues tents, a zydeco/Cajun stage… you get the idea.

Prejean's pheasant, quail and andouille gumbo (Photo by Prejean's Restaurant)

Prejean's pheasant, quail and andouille gumbo (Photo by Prejean's Restaurant)

The food at the fairgrounds is tremendous.  It is freaking delicious and goes way beyond “best festival food you’ll have” into some of the best you’ll ever have…period.  I wait all year for Prejeans Pheasant, Duck, and Andouille Gumbo.  Their Fried Chicken and Jambalaya combo is one of the best ways to spend $8.  And I’m not even talking about all the things most folks seem to like, like the crawfish monica, the shrimp po boys, the cochon de lait sandwiches, the mango freezes… trust me when I say you should budget yourself 20 bucks per day for food at the fairgrounds. You’ll thank me.

Photo By Lynn Lesh 2010

Photo By Lynn Lesh

This being my third Jazz Fest, I tend to have a rhythm I like to follow, things I like to do.  Some of my favorite moments of Fest have happened during the in between days or extra days, so I tend to do second weekend with an extra day or two on either end of the weekend.  This gives me time to actually see the city, something I don’t really do as much while the music is in full swing.  This also gives me a chance to catch additional great music at various places, including the Louisiana Music Factory which hosts many in store sets during the days surrounding Fest.  I think this review works best chronologically, so let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Welcome to NOLA

Welcome to NOLA

Wednesday: April 28, 2010: Day One

Arrive at airport, no traffic on Bronx/Queens Expressway and breeze through security line… only to find a gate full of ANGRY people.  Why so serious?  You see, the airlines don’t apparently know that it is Jazz Fest, even if millions of people do.  So they oversell flights, and are shocked when they need 5 volunteers to go later, but folks already have reservations and concert tickets.  I considered getting bumped, but wanted to get to town.

House of Blues, New Orleans

House of Blues, New Orleans

I don’t normally do House of Blues shows, would rather support local clubs.  But today, they had Kermit Ruffins of the Barbecue Swingers, doing a “Treme House Party” on stage with Walter Wolfman Washington, Dr. Michael White, Henry Butler, and Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews.  This sounded awesome.  Plus, Fesshead Krewe (represented by a metal bust of Professor Longhair) was hosting a party in an empty lot, with The  Rebirth Brass Band and an all star band of Neville-related project alums (Band called “Never Was Brothers”), which sounded great.  So no flight credit for me. Really excited about this House of Blues‘ show.  So excited that I call after I land to see if I should get tickets early or just walk up.  The box office suggested coming early so I head right from my host’s place towards The French Quarter.  On the way, pass by Fesshead Fest, and never have a received a look of utter betrayal like the one I got from the man waiving people in to Fesshead Fest.  The guy was shocked that I kept driving, how could I do this to him?!  But I stopped long enough to hear The  Rebirth Brass Band rock out one tune and was it hot!

Café Du Monde beignets

Café Du Monde's Beignets (Photo by Marisa Harford)

Park on Decatur, run to the box office, snag a ticket, stop by Café Du Monde for some beignets (French donuts with powdered sugar) and some Café Au Lait (coffee with milk).  Great couple musicians jamming on some folk and soul music out front, a sister with dreads on guitar, a youngish guy on guitar, a drummer… another guitarist walks up and joins them, as does a singer, who starts singin’ the hell out of some Bill Withers.  I love Bill Withers.  Hey, apparently, so does Cyril Neville, who’s suddenly standing five feet from me, also checking them out.  I decide not to say anything to him, even though he’s an amazing musician who’s done some amazing stuff, most recently touring with Galactic and burning down The Brooklyn Bowl after The Saints won the Super Bowl.  Another woman walks up and starts singing Aretha Franklin‘s “Chain of Fools” and is fantastic.  This is gonna be a good week.

Go hang with my host for a few moments before I head over the House of Blues, he’s an old friend through social justice work and is a good dude trying to good work in a city that needs it.  Off to HOB!

Photo by Matt Cornell

Kermit's Poster (Photo by Matt Cornell)

Show review:

This show had all the makings of an epic, but some things worried me – like why call it a “Treme House Party” when people can go see Kermit Ruffins playing in the Treme tomorrow night?  It’s Jazz Fest.  My guess is that lineup doesn’t need to piggy back off the show, even if it is popular.  Great opening act, singer and a guitarist accompanying.  Great voice, insane Mariah Carey-like upper range.  But the main event was a disappointment, for a few reasons:

1)      The curtain opened and we were watching a ‘Treme House Party’.  The stage was set with couches, chairs, a bar, and random non musicians hangin’ out, having drinks.  Weird.  The House of Blues brings you a fake version of something that exists for real a couple miles away tomorrow.

Trombone Shorty @ Kermit's Show

Trombone Shorty @ Kermit's Show (Photo by Matt Cornell)

2)      I had hoped there would be some real interaction between the guests, with each other, with Kermit.  But the show was a lot more of Kermit plays one song, special guest X leads The Barbeque Swingers for a few numbers, maybe Kermit joins on one, then special guest X leaves.  LAME.  Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t actually lame, the musicianship was fantastic, but the vibe was off, and Kermit having a drink on stage, trumpet in hand, while someone else leads his band and doesn’t get in on it?  Weird stuff.

3)      Because of 1 and 2, things were low energy for the first half, which is a shame b/c Walter Wolfman Washington and Dr. Michael White were great.  But Henry Butler really kicked things up a notch with his cover of “Mustang Sally.”  Then Trombone Shorty’s mini set was also great and he brought his brother James Andrews out to do “Skokie” and “Oop Oop A Doo.”

Treme on HBO

Treme on HBO

4)      I’m sure Treme is awesome.  I can’t wait to see the series, actually.  And I very much dig John Boutte, the guy who wrote the song that became the theme.  Still, it sounds a lot like the beginning to “Do Whatcha Wanna“, and I got very excited the four times I heard it this weekend, only to be disappointed.  My guess is musicians in NOLA will be as tired of that song as they are of “The Saints” very soon.

I know folks say that bad sex and pizza, even when they’re bad, are pretty good.  But whoever said those things must clearly not know good pizza and good sex, because pretty good doesn’t freaking cut it when it could be mind blowing.  While pretty good, and probably great for folks who didn’t know they could expect more, this show was probably the disappointment of the weekend.  It could have been one of those crazy moments of synergy when brilliant musicians make something happen, but instead it was a weird, gimmicky thing that was more like an all-star review than the party I had hoped for.

Irvin Mayfield and the NOJO Jam

Irvin Mayfield and the NOJO Jam

Next up, I stopped by the Jam Session at Irvin Mayfield’s new place, called a “head cutting session.”  For y’all don’t know, cutting heads is not just jamming, but is actually competitive combat.  Kinda how a poetry slam is to spoken word and performance poetry.  So, to hear it billed like that, I was hoping for some folks spitting fiyo.  What was going down there was a bunch of younger cats playing some charts together.

Megalomaniac's Ball - Garage A Trois (Photo by Jon Weber)

Megalomaniac's Ball - Garage A Trois (Photo by Jon Weber)

It was great to see them finding their feet, but again, not quite what I expected.  Still, the players was solid, lotsa horn players getting their groove on to “Straight“, “No Chaser” and whatnot.    Good times.  Caught several songs then felt my energy start to flag a lil bit.  While I was enjoying the jamming, it wasn’t worth starting the week off sleep deprived.  It was too late to hit The Megalomaniac’s Ball, featuring Garage A Trois, Stanton Moore Trio, Dead Kenny G’s, Mike Dillon and Earl Harvin Duo, at The Howlin’ Wolf, so I decided to head back towards the rental car.  A good but not great start to the week, was starting to feel a little bummed.  Thing is, some of the best shows I’ve seen at Fest have been the night before, so expectations were great and not met.

So…it’s 2am and I’m driving down Elysian Fields and about to turn onto my friend’s street…when I hear a brass band.  I immediately park.  Last year there were brass band battles on Frenchman, a block away.  I head towards Frenchman and sure enough there are two small groups going at it, with a frenzied group of dancers between them.  More and more players join up, including Clarence ‘Trixzey’ Slaughter, formerly of Trombone Shorty’s band.  It’s getting crazy.  The crowd is getting larger.  For the second time today, Cyril Neville bumps into me.  I decide again not to say anything.  A guy shows up with a baritone (smaller version of a tuba) and another guy with weird saxophones.  A shorter Latina woman is dancing like crazy.  Cyril bumps into me again and I thank him for such a great Super Bowl show at The Brooklyn Bowl with Galactic.

Cyril: Aww, thank you man.  You know, that night… we were Doin Work! You know?

Me: Yeah you right. And brother, you sure were.

Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews has now shown up and though half the crowd is spraining eyeballs trying to notice it is him without staring, he’s unarmed and just there to watch.  The band is taking it up and up.  Two drunk dudes are doing their best to ruin it by stumbling into the band but thankfully not succeeding.  Clarence ‘Trixzey’ Slaughter is KILLING on his horn.  Hell yeah! Finally, the band busts out “Saints” for a while, then second line and it’s a wrap.  Instead of bed by 2am, it’s more like 4:30am now.  And while still a little disappointed about the first show, I went to sleep real happy.  Seen some great musicianship and showmanship, and Jazz Fest hadn’t even restarted.  This was gonna be an awesome week.

~ Article by: Russ Agdern ~

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